UConn coach Geno Auriemma did not make any predictions about winning another national championship next season at the Victory Parade in Hartford April 14. He did not make any today either following the official ribbon cutting ceremony at his new restaurant, Geno’s Grille, at the impressive Storrs Center.
What Auriemma said will be different, however, is the attitude of the team heading into next season. The Huskies will return All-Americans Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, soon-to-be All-American Breanna Stewart, 82.8 percent of their scoring and 80.1 percent of their rebounding from this season’s 35-4 champion.
“I think one of the great things about winning a national championship and you have a lot of players coming back is this tremendous sense of confidence that they have that they know they can do it because they’ve done it,’’ Auriemma said. “However, once October, November and December come around you start to gauge whether or not that confidence is based on what happened last year or what we’re doing this year in October, November, and December. So, yeah, certainly the attitude going into next season is going to be a little bit different than the attitude that went into this season when you’re not sure if you can do it. That’s the biggest difference.’’
The Huskies have not yet officially begun their quest for an NCAA record ninth national championship. They were given two weeks off following a 93-60 rout of Louisville in the NCAA tournament final in New Orleans April 9.
“It’s hard,’’ Auriemma said. “When you go as deep as we do and the season ended April 9, then we give them a couple weeks off. The next thing you know it’s the end of April. The next week is the week before exams, which means you can’t do anything. Then after that it’s exams and then they’re done. So there’s not much of a postseason when you go into April like some teams that get knocked out March 1. So the fact that a lot of them are going to be here taking summer school courses that’s a time when they can really get some work done. And then a bunch of them are doing USA Basketball.’’
The allotted two weeks off from the UConn coaching staff has not stopped some of the healthy players from getting an early start on their off-season workload. Some have already been in the gym. Some have already been in the weight room.
“Stefanie does her workouts differently because she’s trying to recover,’’ Auriemma said. “Morgan (Tuck’s) done a lot of stuff now because she’s healthy for the first time. I walked in the other day and Kaleena, Kiah (Stokes), Bria and Stewie were in a 4-on-4 game against four guys. They’ve all been in there at various times. It’s just you don’t get to see them all together. But they’re all in there at various times.’’